July 2020


The Newspaper’s Staff Correspondent 27 Jul 2020

HYDERABAD: Residents and growers of Johi taluka staged a rally outside the local press club on Sunday in protest against shortage of irrigation water and theft of the most essential commodity from Johi branch, an off-taking channel of Dadu canal.

The protest was led by Abadgar Association’s representatives Yousuf Solangi, Jhando Khan Leghari, Dr A. Hameed Soomro, Manzoor Solangi, Dr Mohammad Khan Babbar and others. Imdad Chandio of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Mahesh Kumar and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf local leaders Sadqat Ali Jatoi, Kareem Jatoi, Manzoor Babbar, Dastagir Rind and Afroz Shoro also joined the protest as a mark of solidarity.

Carrying banners and placards, they raised slogans against the irrigation department.

Protesters’ leaders alleged that the elected representatives of Dadu were involved in water theft from Johi branch because lands of influential people were being irrigated alone while poor residents were left helpless with continuous shortage of water and their lands barren.

They stated that upper riparian of Johi branch was getting water but in the 19-miles downstream area, no one was getting the required flows. People from upper riparian stole water through illegal pipes and lift machines while illegal minors were also created from the branch, which was condemnable, they said.

Speaking to the participants, Manzoor Solangi said they would have to call spade a spade. He said the situation in the Malkani area of Badin and Johi taluka in Dadu was the same. All affected residents would have to unite and hold protest in Hyderabad on water issue, he suggested.

If they did not surround their elected representatives to make them address the issue, their struggle would not yield any results, he said.

Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2020



Qurban Ali Khushik 26 Jul 2020

DADU: Irrigation Secretary Rafique Ahmed Buriro, who had established a week-long camp in Dadu, Sehwan and Johi to supervise an operation against water thieves in the district, has asked for Rangers’ help in stopping politically influential big landowners from taking away other growers’ share in irrigation water.

“During the week-long operation, widespread complaints of water theft were detected and several hundred illegally-fitted pipes, pumping machines and modules were removed to ensure flow of water till the tail-end areas. However, certain politically influential landowners would bring in pumping machines and resort to stealing water as soon as the raiding teams move out of their areas,” a dejected secretary told this reporter after winding up the camp on Saturday.

During his campaign, Mr Buriro visited various installations and spots from where water was being diverted to different landowners’ fields through illegal means. He also spoke to a large number of growers affected by such practices.

He observed that water theft in the district was on a large scale and the irrigation teams working under his supervision removed illegal diversion pipes, direct outlets (DOs), pumping machines etc from along several hundred kilometres of canals and watercourses to ensure flow of water till the tail-end areas without any blockage.

Achievements in week-long operation are being nullified, says official

He expressed his dismay over failure of the operation saying that once the irrigation teams would leave an area, politically influential landowners would bring in their machines again to undo the corrective measures.

“Although, our teams are continuing the operations, it seems impossible to achieve the desired results unless these bigwigs were made to stop indulging in illegal practices,” he said.

He pointed out that the teams comprised senior officials including Sukkur Barrage chief engineer Irshad Ahmed Memon, superintendent engineer of irrigation department Sajid Ali Bhutto, Dadu Deputy Commissioner Raja Shahzaman Khuhro, Additional DC Nazeer Ahmed Soomro and SSP Dr Farrukh Raza Malik.

The team paid surprise visits to specified spots along Johi canal and inspected its head to the tail-end areas and took appropriate action wherever water theft was under way. He said law would take its course against the culprits.

The irrigation secretary said he had now recommended to the government to deploy Rangers personnel along the canals and the watercourses off-taking from them across the district in order to prevent these unscrupulous elements from indulging in water theft again.

“The irrigation department doesn’t have a force strong enough to deal with certain influential figures on the spot”, he argued, and said he himself would write to the Sindh Rangers director general for the required support and cooperation with the provincial government’s approval.

He said he was confident that the desired cooperation would be extended to the department within the next few days.

“It is my priority to ensure water supply till the tail-end areas of all canals. It’s the prime responsibility of the government too,” added the secretary.

In reply to a question, he said that as much as 747 cusecs was recorded flowing in Johi Canal from the source, Dadu canal. Even then, the tail-end growers were not getting any water, he wondered. “This a challenge to the authorities,” he said, and pointed out that water theft was causing damage to thousands of acres of land, besides causing heavy losses to the affected growers and the provincial agriculture sector.

The secretary said that through the pukka channel lift system, 180 cusecs and through Danister lift scheme 300 cusecs were being supplied to the tail-end areas of Dadu canal.

He directed the local officials to ensure completion of the solar system scheme converting the pukka channel lift scheme from power to solar system to continue supply of water to tail end of Dadu canal without any disturbance.

The irrigation secretary said that he had also directed the officials concerned to ensure supply to the highly-polluted Manchhar Lake in order to get its water purified.

Sukkur Barrage chief engineer Irshad Ali Memon said that the 20 illegal pipes and 15 lifting machines were removed during the operation and action was taken against those who had tampered with modules at 145 spots.

The Johi irrigation engineer recalled that complaints were lodged against two influential political figures recently at the Johi police station and more such elements would be booked soon.

The Sehwan irrigation engineer said cases were lodged at the Bhan Syedabad and Sehwan police stations against five political figures for stealing water from Bhambha and Daim watercourses.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2020



Recorder Report Updated 21 Jul 2020

LAHORE: The Punjab government will soon make 116 water filtration plants functional that were installed by the Punjab Saaf Pani Company through public health engineering department while the transfers of assets of the Company will be made after it is dissolved.

This was disclosed in a meeting of the cabinet committee on finance and development which was chaired by Punjab Finance Minister Hashim Jawan Bakhat here on Monday.

The meeting also decided hiring of staff in the Punjab Infrastructure Development Authority, and approved Rs 4.707 billion grants for public sector development programme, establishment of offices in Bahawalpur and Multan for South Punjab Secretariat and public finance management unit in finance department.

It also had a green signal for the establishment of Punjab University Medical College and its allied hospital and thus permitting the health department to proceed with the Punjab University. Further, the officials concerned were instructed to develop a comprehensive plan with the consultation of the all stakeholders for the construction of the new offices in Multan and Bahawalpur.

The Minister ordered the finance and planning and development departments to address the concerns of standing committee on the establishment of Public Finance Management Unit. He directed the Punjab Infrastructure Development Authority to provide technical support and advisory to the communication and works department for the construction of public buildings.

Further, he asked the chairman of planning and development to head a committee in which the Punjab Infrastructure Development Authority and communication and works department will give bylaws for the construction of public sector buildings of schools, colleges, hospitals and others to ensure environment-friendly and energy saving infrastructure.

On the occasion, Advisor to Chief Minister Dr Salman Shah stressed the need of checking department’s spending and performance in public finance management unit.

The Punjab Chief Secretary stressed the need for improving the efficiency of the law department, Punjab Information and Technology Board (PITB) and PPRA and restricting the size of the Public Finance Management Unit small.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020



Agencies Updated 20 Jul 2020

BEIJING: Authorities in central China blasted a dam on Sunday to release surging waters behind it amid widespread flooding across the country that has claimed scores of lives.

State broadcaster CCTV reported the dam on the Chuhe River in Anhui province was destroyed with explosives early on Sunday morning, after which the water level was expected to drop by 70 centimeters (more than 2 feet).

Water levels on many rivers, including the mighty Yangtze, have been unusually high this year because of torrential rains.

Blasting dams and emba­nkments to discharge water was an extreme response emp­loyed during China’s worst floods in recent years in 1998, when more than 2,000 people died and almost 3 million homes were destroyed.

Last week, the gargantuan Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze opened three floodgates as the water level behind the massive dam rose more than 15 metres (50 feet) above flood level. Another flood crest is expected to arrive at the dam on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, soldiers and workers have been testing the strength of embankments and shoring them up with sandbags and rocks. On Saturday, firefighters and others finished filling in a 188-meter (620-foot) break on Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, that had caused widespread flooding across 15 villages and agricultural fields in Jiangxi province. More than 14,000 people were evacuated.

Seasonal flooding strikes large parts of China annually, especially in its central and southern regions, but has been especially severe this summer. More than 150 people have died or are missing in flooding and landslides brought on by the torrential rains 23 of them since Thursday alone.

About 1.8 million people have been evacuated and direct losses attributed to flooding are estimated at more than 49 billion yuan ($7 billion), according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.

Major cities have been spared so far, but concern has risen over Wuhan and other downstream metropolises that are home to tens of millions of people.China raised the flood alert level in the Huai River region in the country’s east to Level II from Level III, the second highest on its four-tier scale, after days of torrential downpours and amid expectations of further heavy rainfall.

Ten reservoirs on the Huai River have seen water levels exceeding warning levels by as much as 6.85 metres, according to the Huaihe River Commission of China’s Ministry of Water Resources.

The 1,000km (620 mile) Huai River flows through major agriculture and manufacturing hubs in Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces. Torrential rains have battered China for two weeks from Chongqing in the southwest to Shanghai on the east coast.

Several regions alongside the Yangtze River, including Wuhan city in Hubei province and in Jiangxi province, where China’s largest freshwater lake is located, decl­ared the highest flood alerts.

“Floods are occurring at the same time at the Yantze River, Huai River and Tai Lake…The flood prevention situation is very severe,” the water resources ministry said. Water levels in the region were likely to exceed the maximum level that reservoirs can withstand, the ministry added.

At Lake Tai, on the border of the wealthy coastal provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, water levels have already risen above the safety guaranteed level, according to government data.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2020



Jamil Nagri 16 Jul 2020

  • PM announces plans to build more dams
  • Pledges to talk to CM for SOPs before reopening of tourism
  • Aide says project to generate 4,500MW, create 16,000 jobs
  • Imran, army chief, ministers visit project site

GILGIT: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday launched the construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam and announced that the government would move towards building more dams on rivers to generate low-cost hydel power.

While addressing a public gathering in Chilas, the district headquarters of Diamer, after visiting the dam site along with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and federal ministers Ali Amin Gandapur and Faisal Vawda, PM Khan said: “The decision to build this dam was taken 50 years ago. There can be no better site for constructing a dam, it is a natural dam. Forty or 50 years ago this was decided, and work on the project has begun today. This is one of the biggest reasons why we haven’t progressed.”

The 6.4 million acre feet water reservoir would not only add 1.2m acres of agriculture and 4,500 megawatts environment-friendly electricity, it would also boost steel, cement and construction industry by creating 16,000 jobs, said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa in a tweet.

The prime minister told the people of Gilgit-Baltistan that the project would generate job opportunities for the people living in the region. He said generating electricity from water instead of furnace oil or coal would prevent negative impacts of global warming and climate change. “The benefits are dual. We won’t have to import fuel and it won’t affect our climate negatively,” he added.

He said the country would neither have to import fuel for this project nor would add to the global warming problems of the country.

He said the government was going towards building the “biggest dam in Pakistan’s history”, explaining that this would the country’s third big dam.

“China has made around 5,000 big dams, but have a total of about 80,000 dams. From this, you can gauge the massive mistakes we have made in the past,” said the premier before announcing that the government would start building more dams on rivers, which would lessen pressure on foreign exchange and allow Pakistan to generate energy.

“The decisions made in the 1990s to generate electricity using imported furnace oil affected our current account deficit. When there is pressure on foreign exchange, economic conditions start deteriorating,” he said, adding that his government inherited a current account deficit of Rs20 billion. He explained that the value of the rupee started falling after the country started using imported oil to generate electricity and when the rupee depreciated, all imports became more expensive and inflation rose.

Tourism industry

About the demand for reopening tourism that has been severely impacted in Gilgit-Baltistan by the Covid-19 pandemic, the PM said: “I am familiar with GB and have visited Chilas on multiple occasions in the past 30 years. I am well aware how much the area depends on tourism and how much they need tourism during the summer months.” He said he would speak to the GB caretaker chief minister to prepare standard operating procedures for reopening the tourism industry.

“We can learn from the world, tourism is slowly resuming. It won’t be the same as it was before the pandemic hit, but we can start opening it slowly and start developing SOPs for it,” Mr Khan said, expressing the hope that the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) would also extend help in this regard.

Mr Khan said: “We didn’t increase your [GB] budget out of obligation. It is our government’s policy to prioritise those areas that have been left behind. So far, our development has been restricted to a few cities. We will be left behind until we spend on uplifting less-developed areas. Therefore, the government is investing in GB, merged [tribal] districts and Balochistan.”

He said nations only progressed when they thought of the future and when they invested in their resources, uplifting those segments of society that had been left behind.

Caretaker chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan Mir Afzal, Governor Raja Jalal Hussain Maqpoon and local leadership of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf were in attendance.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2020



Tahir SiddiquiUpdated 10 Jul 2020

KARACHI: Under the World Bank Solid Waste Emergency and Efficiency Projects (SWEEP), a pre-drone survey has been conducted of all the 38 nullahs (storm-water drains) of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) while an environmental and socio-economic management survey is being conducted across the nullahs and dump sites as per the WB requirement.

This was stated at a meeting held here with Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in the chair. The meeting was attended by Local Government Minister Nasir Shah, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, PSCM Sajid Jamal Abro, Local Government Secretary Roshan Shaikh, Finance Secretary Hassan Naqvi, PD Competitive and Liveable City of Karachi (CLICK) Zubair Channa and others.

The chief minister said that under rain emergency arrangements, he had released Rs229 million and placed the funds at the disposal of all divisional commissioners. “I have issued directives through the chief secretary to all the DCs and MCs to clean the nullahs and make necessary arrangements for disposal of rainwater,” he added.

He said the commissioner of Karachi had requested for additional funds of Rs30m, which had also been released.

The local government minister said that rain emergency cells had been established at the LG department, commissioner’s office, DC offices and at all municipal committee offices and 1,093 complaint centres had also been set up.

Rs229 million placed at the disposal of divisional commissioners to clean the nullahs

The chief minister said the WB had agreed to invest $100m in the improvement of solid waste system in Karachi.

The SWEEP project was conceived in November 2019. The project includes improvement of garbage transfer stations as per international standards, establishment of a modern landfill site at Dhabeji, upgrade of the Jam Chakro landfill site and emergency intervention to clean drains which served as the main sewage carriers of the city.

SWEEP has an allocation of $11m for the emergency component.

Solid waste collection/disposal system

Briefing the chief minister, Zubair Channa said the concept note of SWEEP was approved by the Planning Commission on June 8. He said that on recommendation of the WB and as a stopgap arrangement, CLICK was assigned the task of SWEEP.

At this, the chief minister said the Sindh government was investing $8m from its resources which would be reimbursed by the WB.

Mr Channa told the chief minister that the methodology adopted for payment to the contractors was quite transparent and foolproof. He added that the amount would be paid to contractors based on the quantum of sludge taken out from nullahs and disposed of or dumped.

Only 38 major nullahs under the KMC administration have been undertaken in SWEEP.

The project director told the chief minister that pre-drone surveys had been conducted of all the 38 nullahs of the KMC and the environmental and socio-economic management survey was being conducted across the nullahs and dump sites as per a World Bank requirement.

District Central

The chief minister was told that the excavation or cleaning of nullahs had been started in the city.

He was told that so far 295,824 tonnes of garbage/sludge had been taken from different nullahs located in different districts.

At present 33 excavators and 69 dumpers were engaged in different districts to remove sludge from nullahs

The chief minister was told that power outages by the K-Electric and Hesco were creating issues of closure of main pumping stations at disposal points.

At this the chief minister directed the energy department to talk to the KE and Hesco and direct them to exempt pumping stations from loadshedding.

The chief minister said the issue of cleaning and reconstruction of nullahs in Karachi were being made under SWEEP. “It would resolve the issue once [and] for all and then their maintenance would be done by the KMC,” he said.

Mr Shah said that more than 50 per cent of solid waste dumped in open nullahs was one issue and illegal allotment and encroachments along nullahs was another.

He directed the chief secretary to resolve both issues.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2020